Disclaimer: None of the information in this article constitutes medical advice. All statements are merely the opinion of the writer(s). We recommend that patients follow their doctor’s guidance in regard to cholesterol management.
Step One Foods is a functional foods brand that sells snacks like bars and smoothie mixes which the brand claims can help naturally lower cholesterol levels. The brand claims that their food products are backed by scientific research, and can be a solution for consumers seeking a "statin alternative."
But is Step One Foods clinically proven to reduce cholesterol levels or are these just marketing claims? Are the snacks healthy or unhealthy? What's in them anyway that lowers cholesterol? And how do real users rate the taste and experience of Step One Foods?
In this article we'll answer all of these questions and more as we review the clinical research on Step One Foods to give our take on whether or not it's likely to reduce cholesterol levels.
We'll also review the ingredients in their snacks and share our thoughts on whether or not they're healthy, as well as share a real user's review of Step One Foods.
Is Step One Foods Proven to Work?
Step One Foods funded a clinical trial published in a legitimate medical journal called The Journal of Nutrition. This is a good sign of the legitimacy of the brand, and the results are shown above.
These results are impressive. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels decreased by 8.80% in the patients consuming Step One Foods products twice-daily. Total cholesterol levels reduced by an average of around 5%. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels increased by around 1%, which is a good sign because this type of cholesterol is associated with favorable health outcomes.
The trial only lasted 12 weeks, and trial participants were consuming Step One Foods only 8 of those weeks.
Medical research shows that high LDL levels are associated with increased mortality rates, so the fact that Step One Foods does appear to naturally reduce these levels in patients with high cholesterol makes this an effective functional food in our opinion.
In the future we would like to see research comparing the efficacy and safety of Step One Foods to cholesterol medications like statins, because if this class of medications fails to achieve better results than a whole foods solution, they may not be worth taking due to the side effects.
Regardless, we’re impressed by the research backing these products and by the transparency of the brand to both fund this research in a legitimate manner, and to link to the research from their website, so that consumers (and researchers like us) can review it themselves.
We consider Step One Foods likely to be effective for cholesterol reduction, and would recommend that patients seeking a natural option for cholesterol reduction speak with their doctor about this brand.
Real Step One Foods User Review
One of the YouTube reviews of Step One Foods that interviews a real user is shown below. This video is published on the Step One Foods YouTube channel which makes it a bit less useful than an unaffiliated user review in our opinion (but we couldn't find one on YouTube). This still may be useful for consumers considering Step One Foods:
Is Step One Foods Unhealthy?
Step One Foods bars have similar ingredients. The ingredients listed above are from their Apple Cinnamon Bar. All of the ingredients in this formulation are whole foods, so we would recommend this product from a health perspective. There is no added sugar, and the naturally sweet flavor comes from fruits like apples and dates.
One of the reasons this bar is likely effective for lowering LDL cholesterol is the inclusion of nuts and seeds such as white chia seeds and walnuts. Nut consumption is proven in medical research to reduce LDL cholesterol levels in patients with elevated levels. The researchers in the linked study also noted that eating a relatively small portion of nuts daily could cause reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by 3.2%.
The bars also contain a functional food ingredient called plant sterols. This class of ingredient, which is a natural part of a plant’s biology, has beneficial effects on cholesterol levels. This is one of the reasons why doctors often suggest that patients with high cholesterol eat more fruits and vegetables.
A medical review published in the Current Atherosclerosis Reports journal found that plant sterols were effective for two reasons: they reduced cholesterol absorption from foods consumed, and also reduced circulating cholesterol levels already in the bloodstream. This is an extremely effective ingredient choice for a cholesterol-lowering functional food product.
The final ingredient we want to highlight in this formulation is cinnamon. As we documented in our review of Saigon cinnamon, this spice is proven to lower cholesterol levels on average. It’s one of the most well-studied nutraceuticals for this purpose.
We consider Step One Foods bars to be healthy because they're made with whole foods and free of questionable additive ingredients like artificial flavors or artificial sweeteners.
We recommend the Anytime Sprinkle, Apple Cinnamon Bars, Cranberry Pecan Bars, and Blueberry & Cinnamon Oatmeal.
We don’t recommend the Dark Chocolate Walnut Bars or Dark Chocolate Crunch Bars because they contain added sugar. They contain a very small amount, and regular dark chocolate also has a small amount of added sugar, but we recommend avoiding added sugar entirely (especially for those with pre-existing conditions).
Can You Reduce Cholesterol With Grocery Store Foods?
For consumers who may not be able to afford Step One Foods or who would prefer to try to reduce cholesterol naturally at home just by changing their diet, there's a video published by a YouTube creator named Simple Man with over 100,000 views that documents the lifestyle and dietary changes he made to significantly reduce cholesterol levels:
Does Step One Foods Cause Side Effects?
Many consumers are curious about whether Step One Foods causes side effects. This is a logical concern given that prescription medications used to treat high cholesterol can cause side effects.
The clinical trial on Step One Foods cited earlier in this article did not document any side effects. We do not consider Step One Foods likely to cause side effects because the products are made entirely with whole food ingredients. There are no active drug ingredients likely to cause side effects.
Of course, any food could cause sensitivities or allergy to any individual, but our point is that there's no evidence that Step One Foods is more likely to cause side effects than any other food product. Consumers should read the ingredient label to ensure there are no ingredients they're allergic to.
Can Cinnamon Naturally Reduce Cholesterol Levels?
Cinnamon is a spice that has been studied for its ability to reduce cholesterol levels.
A 2014 meta-study analyzed results from over 100 clinical trials and found that cinnamon supplementation is proven to reduce cholesterol levels in both animals and humans to a statistically significant degree.
A clinical trial published in the Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that cinnamon extract supplementation reduced LDL cholesterol levels by 7% in patients with high blood sugar.
Illuminate Labs manufactures a Ceylon Cinnamon Extract supplement that’s potent (standardized to minimum 8% flavonoids) and third-party tested to ensure purity and label accuracy (test results published transparently on the product page). It only costs $15 for a monthly subscription.
Interested consumers can check out Illuminate Labs Ceylon Cinnamon Extract at this link to the product page on our website.
We are not suggesting that cinnamon extract should be used to treat any disease, or that cinnamon supplementation is as effective as Step One Foods for cholesterol reduction; we're just sharing relevant clinical research that patients may wish to speak with their doctor about.
Who Founded Step One Foods?
The founder of Step One Foods has an impressive resume. Her name is Elizabeth Klodas, and she’s a cardiologist who worked at the Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins University according to the brand's team bio page. These are both esteemed medical research organizations.
We always recommend that consumers look into the team behind the products and supplements they’re taking. A team with doctors and scientists is much more likely to formulate an effective product based on our hundreds of product reviews on Illuminate Health, which is unsurprising because formulating a research-backed product with safe and effective ingredient doses is a challenging and medically rigorous process.
We consider this fact another good sign about the legitimacy and transparency of the Step One Foods brand.